Study: Arctic getting darker, making Earth warmer

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The Arctic isn’t nearly as bright and white as it used to be because of more ice melting in the ocean, and that’s turning out to be a global problem, a new study says.

With more dark, open water in the summer, less of the sun’s heat is reflected back into space. So the entire Earth is absorbing more heat than expected, according to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

That extra absorbed energy is so big that it measures about one-quarter of the entire heat-trapping effect of carbon dioxide, said the study’s lead author, Ian Eisenman, a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

The Arctic grew 8 percent darker between 1979 and 2011, Eisenman found, measuring how much sunlight is reflected back into space.

“Basically, it means more warming,” Eisenman said in an interview.

The North Pole region is an ocean that mostly is crusted at the top with ice that shrinks in the summer and grows back in the fall. At its peak melt in September, the ice has shrunk on average by nearly 35,000 square miles — about the size of Maine — per year since 1979.

Written By: Associated Press
continue to source article at washingtonpost.com

10 COMMENTS

    • In reply to #1 by God fearing Atheist:

      Great! The loss of all that ice will make it easier to drill for oil!

      Yes it will. Shell anticipates that soon they will be able to go into production in the Beaufort. There is a lot of oil there, and the problem has been getting it out. The rigs have been heavily ice damaged and have had to move off site. Attempts to ship oil out in tankers have largely failed. Pipelines to the shore run into problems when the pack ice goes aground in the winter, gouging great grooves that look on sonar like a giant with with a 30 or 40 meter ice cream scoop has attacked the seabed. Any pipeline would be obviously destroyed, even if thickly encastered.

      Then oil, thin and fluid as it leaves the heat of the subterranean deposit becomes viscous and very difficult to pump through a pipe, requiring a large amount of heat to move it at all.

      Yup, you bet the oil companies are waiting for the break up of the Arctic ice pack. And, since they have some pretty good scientists working on when it will happen, despite their public posturing and denial, you have Royal Dutch Shell Oil’s informed prediction as to when the Arctic Ocean will be sufficiently navigable to make oil production possible right here, and it is: (pause for suspense) 2019.

      By then world oil supplies will be under pressure to the extent that more and more costly oil to get out will become economically feasible. I mentioned in another thread that before Prudhoe Bay peaked, we were burning one barrel of oil to get 111 out. Now it is one in twenty, and one in five in the Albertan tar sands.

      • In reply to #3 by Sheepdog:

        Yes it will. Shell anticipates that soon they will be able to go into production in the Beaufort.

        The image of a man sawing off the branch he’s sitting on comes to mind.

      • In reply to #3 by Sheepdog:

        In reply to #1 by God fearing Atheist:

        Great! The loss of all that ice will make it easier to drill for oil!

        Yes it will. Shell anticipates that soon they will be able to go into production in the Beaufort. There is a lot of oil there, and the problem has been getting it out. The rigs have been he…

        Yea. I did put a pseudo-html sarcasm tag, but the software seems to have deleted it. Fortunately, people here are smart enough to get my intent. As big oil does have plans maybe I need an edit proof cynicism tag.

      • In reply to #3 by Sheepdog:

        In reply to #1 by God fearing Atheist:

        Great! The loss of all that ice will make it easier to drill for oil!

        Yup, you bet the oil companies are waiting for the break up of the Arctic ice pack. And, since they have some pretty good scientists working on when it will happen, despite their public posturing and denial, you have Royal Dutch Shell Oil’s informed prediction as to when the Arctic Ocean will be sufficiently navigable to make oil production possible right here, and it is: (pause for suspense) 2019.

        The chancers are already running oil takers through the Arctic Ocean ice in the summer!

        http://barentsobserver.com/en/sections/articles/arctic-oil-tankers-collided

        According to Novaya Gazeta, the collision happened in difficult ice conditions, exacerbated by poor visibility. It was the tanker Varzuga that crashed into the rear stern side of Indiga. The hull of Indigo was damaged, but the vessel did not lose its seaworthy.

        BarentsObserver reported last week that the two tankers hold the ice-classification 1A Super with double hull.

        The radio-station Echo Moskvy reports with reference to the editor of the Maritime Bulletin Mikael Voitenko that no leakages of diesel or oil are reported.

        The Arctic shipping season 2010 is closely followed by the world’s shipping interests as global warming makes the sea ice retreat in record speed. By sailing the Northern Sea route, the ship-owners save both time and fuel-costs as the distance from Europe to Asia via the north is much shorter than traditionally routes through the Suez- Panama-, or around Africa to Asia.

        According to the original plan, Indiga and Varzuga were scheduled to arrive in the port-town of Pevek on Chukotka in Russia’s Far East on July 27th. So far, there are no report on any delay of the scedule due to the collision this weekend.

        Read also: No way to clean up oil spill under ice: Canadian expert

        • In reply to #7 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #3 by Sheepdog:

          In reply to #1 by God fearing Atheist:

          Great! The loss of all that ice will make it easier to drill for oil!

          Yup, you bet the oil companies are waiting for the break up of the Arctic ice pack. And, since they have some pretty good scientists working on when it will hap…

          Shell are facing the loss of this years exploration in the Chukchi Sea due to their “Kulluk” rig breaking loose from it’s tug and going heavily aground in Alaska. While there is no spill of fuel (yet,) the marine press is reporting that the rig may have to be written off. The shareholders are most upset. The polar bears, not so much.

          Since this seems to be sparking some interest, I was going to put in a couple of links, but simply googling “end of oil” finds a plethora of information. An excellent book, still valid, although a little dated is “The Party’s Over: Oil, War and the Fate of Industrial Societies” by Richard Heinberg. The reason for it’s being dated is that the full extent of the Caspian basin was not known, although his projections allowed for the discovery of another “elephant” field.

          While the energy ratios of production are alarming, the ratio of supply to discovery is equally worrying. Prior to peak production, we were discovering far more oil than we were burning. Now, we are burning roughly four times as much as we are finding (this includes the Caspian.)

          None of the worlds economies have a clue how to cope with the end of oil. While other energy developing technologies exist, only oil can meet the needs of heavy transport and aviation, and much of the military’s requirement. The obvious choice for municipal and light vehicle electric power, nuclear fission, is so thoroughly demonized by the consequences of poor maintenance (Three Mile Island,) poor construction and supervision (Chernobyl) and fundamental issues of cooling that required placing the reactor adjacent to the ocean in an earthquake zone (Fukushima) that the public will still prefer burning coal.

          It is probably unnecessary to point out here of all places that most of the oil is under the control of Islamic nations.

  1. Yep! The feed-backs kick in as dark waters absorb more solar energy and melt more ice.

    Thawing and drying tundra also leads to peat fires causing massive releases of CO2. Drying tropical peat-lands are similar.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub-releases/2012-02/nsae-pfc021512.php
    Vancouver, B.C. (Wednesday, February 15, 2012) –** In 1997, a forest fire in Indonesia ignited an area of peatlands that smouldered for months. By the time it was over, the fire had released greenhouse gases equal to 20 to 40 percent of the total worldwide emissions that year from fossil fuels**.

    But that could be a drop in the bucket compared to future emissions from peat fires. Indonesian peatlands are dwarfed by Canada’s. The total area of all peatland in Canada is estimated to be about twice the size of Saskatchewan.

    At this week’s meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Vancouver, Douglas Woolford of Wilfrid Laurier University will present findings that show how the fire season is becoming longer, and Mike Flannigan of the University of Alberta will highlight the increased risk of peat fires.

    During a forest fire, especially in years of drought, peat can also ignite. When that happens, it produces a smoldering, smoky burn that is difficult to extinguish. Peat can grow several meters deep beneath the ground. In fact, some peat fires burn right through winter, beneath the snow, then pick up again in the spring.

    A warming climate appears to be increasing the risk of peat fires in the North, according to Flannigan. For example, in 2007, Alaska’s Anaktuvuk River region experienced a “tundra fire” fuelled by peat that covered 1,000 square kilometres. Until then, fire had largely been absent from the tundra since the Holocene epoch—12,000 years ago.

    Woolford’s statistical analysis has shown that the forest fire season is becoming longer. Now, climate change models have been used to predict greater risk of forest fires in the future. On top of that, a warming climate means dryer weather, which makes peatlands—rich in legacy carbon—more likely to ignite and release greenhouse gas emissions. This would further contribute to global warming, creating a vicious circle of environmental harm.

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